Singaporeans are having fun on the plots of state land opened for social use

Come out and play
Nicholas Yong and Magdalen Ng Straits Times 28 Feb 10;

Kite flying, cricket, football, frisbee and flying model aeroplanes. These are just some of the weekend activities happening on more than 300 plots of vacant state land available to the public for social and recreational use since 2003.

The plots cover an area of 582ha or 895 football fields. Members of the public need not book or pay to use the open spaces.

Many are located near housing estates. And casual users as well as organised groups have been making full use of them.

At the open field along Sengkang East Way, opposite Anchorvale Community Centre, about 100 people turn up every weekend to fly kites.

The skies are dotted with kites of various sizes, shapes and colours in the evenings.

Service engineer Mohamed Sulhaimi, 37, comes from Jurong West to fly kites with his three young children.

'I drive there two to three times a month because it's not easy to find such a big open space to fly kites. Everyone is friendly and helps to keep a lookout for the children, so that's nice,' he says.

Housewife Ginnie Cheng, 29, says that with Compass Point mall nearby, toilets and other amenities are easily available.

Over at Compassvale Road, an ultimate frisbee league involving more than 600 players has been held for the past 10 weeks.

Ultimate frisbee is a fast-paced mish-mash of netball, basketball and rugby rules, played by two 7-a-side teams.

Frisbee player Sree Ganesh, 25, a member of Chuckies club, says: 'This place is great for a big-scale tournament.'

Before 2003, many of these plots of land carried 'No Trespassing' signs. Following an initiative started by Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs, Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, to open up fields for the public, the signs now declare that the sites are for 'casual community and recreational use'.

Singaporeans have long been creative about using the limited space available, judging by the stories on, a project started by four Nanyang Technological University students last year.

The stories include that of a barber who obtained a special licence to cut hair in an alley after he was evicted from his shop.

One of the students, writer Justin Zhuang, 26, noted: 'Land is so scarce here that there is a constant struggle between people and the state over how land is used. But we hear that the authorities are less strict now (about enforcement).'

And it is not just Singaporeans who are enjoying the use of state land.

Over at Tanah Merah MRT, Indian workers from Tamil Nadu play cricket on the field along New Upper Changi Road.

Safety supervisor Anthony Fernandoss, 24, joins a dozen men every Saturday after work at 5pm. The field is near his workplace in Bedok North and his dormitory in Loyang.

When asked how they all got together, he says with a smile: 'I call my friend, you call your friend.'

Elsewhere, in the shadow of Raffles Hospital and Parkview Square, about 20 men play football on the field on weekends.

Dispatch rider Remy Rahymie, 31, says they play there because 'it's free'.

While some in the group were school friends, others met through their mutual love for another sport, scooter riding.

Some Thai workers 'turned up one day and asked if they could join in' and they have now become regulars, says freelance safety officer Redwan Sumayani, 30.

Their bond extends off the field too - many of them will be attending Mr Remy's forthcoming wedding.

Along Sengkang East Way, opposite Anchorvale Community Centre
Straits Times 28 Feb 10;

It is 2pm on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, but kite enthusiasts are taking up spots on the open fields along Sengkang East Way.

Some are experts, flying kites more than 1m long. Others are children and beginners, who have difficulty getting their smaller kites up in the air.

But soon, colourful kites in many shapes and sizes dot the sky.

Amid all the action, an ice-cream vendor enjoys brisk business.

Picnicking families increase in number as the evening approaches and the time to reel in those high-flying kites draws near.

Compassvale Road
Straits Times 28 Feb 10;

More than 600 ultimate frisbee players have been coming to the field here every weekend to take part in a 10-week frisbee league tournament.

They come from all over Singapore, including Joice Tan, 19, who lives in central Singapore. 'This place is quite convenient because it's next to the LRT station,' says the student.

Although the contest ended last Sunday, you can catch more frisbee action when the players return to the field for the finals next month.

Tanah Merah Kechil Link (next to Tanah Merah MRT)
Straits Times 28 Feb 10;

A cricket bat, some tennis balls and some improvised poles are all that is needed to bring Indian workers from different workplaces and dormitories together.

'We all love cricket,' says safety supervisor Jalaluddin, 28, who has been working here for the last four years.

About a dozen men gather on weekends to play the game that is almost an obsession on the Asian sub-continent. As some play in pants and long-sleeved shirts, others wait their turn on the sidelines, listening to Tamil songs on their mobile phones.

Next to Parkview Square, at the junction of Beach Road and Ophir Road
Straits Times 28 Feb 10;

About 20-odd men have a kickabout every weekend at this field near Bugis MRT. While some of their wives and children watch from the sidelines, the men play beneath darkening skies.

It matters little that the field is bisected by a deep drain and littered with cigarette butts, cans and plastic bottles. Neither do they worry about the danger of the ball being miskicked onto the road.

Only a sudden thunderstorm interrupts the game, causing a scramble for shelter. The game resumes as soon as the rain stops.